Skip to main content

Full text of "The Birthplace of Wolfe : Westerham and its associations"

BIRTHPLACE 
OF WOLFE 



Westerham 
and its 
Associations 



Price Sixpence net. 



WOLFE MEMORIAL FUND. 



HOOKER BROTHERS, 
Herald Works, High-street, Westerham, 



The EDITH and LORNE PIERCE 
COLLECTION of CANADI ANA 




Queen's University at Kingston 



THE BIRTHPLACE 
OF WOLFE 



WESTERHAM 

AND ITS ASSOCIATIONS 



By 

EDMUND VICKERSON. 



ILLUSTRATED 

FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 



Printed for the 

Wolfe Memorial Fund. 

HOOKER BROTHERS, "Herald" Office, Westerham. 



THE 



BIRTHPLACE OF WOLFE 



THE MAN. 

AS more and more we come to realise what Wolfe's 
crowning achievement meant to the British Empire, 

so does our interest in this wonderful young soldier 
quicken, so do Englishmen far and near desire eagerly to learn 
more of the man and to cherish the surviving memorials of 
him. 




James Wolfe. 

From an original unpublished miniatui 



He was scarcely more than a boy when he died on the 
distant Heights of Abraham. Yet what had he not achieved 



in the course of his short life-time When he went to 
Scotland in charge of a regiment at twenty-two he was already 
a battered campaigner. He was beloved by his friends, and 
his affectionate submission to his parents was like his fixity 
in friendship, or his loyalty to the honour of arms. His 
care for his men in time of peace was a novelty in that 
age : he was called " The Soldier's Friend." Intrepid as 
was his unwillingness to waste them in action exceeded 
what some considered the legitimate humanity of a com- 
mander. On the other hand, he fought the enemy not only 
with courage but with animosity, as one who had offended 
and meant ill to England. And yet this great war-like genius 
was set in a frame so feeble that it was constantly a prey 
to sickness and depression. When hardly able to stand upon 
his feet, he plucked from repeated failure a " magnificent 
and heaven-storming courage " wherewith to win one of 
the most momentous battles of the world. Wolfe has been 
called the " Nelson of the Army." Rather should we call 
Nelson, his great compeer, who came after him, the Wolfe 
of the Navy, 

Just as Burnham Thorpe, the Norfolk birthplace of Nelson, 
is honoured ; as the birthplace of England's greatest poet 
is regarded with reverence ; so should the little Kentish town 
where James Wolfe first saw the light on the 2nd of January, 
1727, be held in national honour. 

HIS NATIVE PLACE. 

In our fancy we can conjure up James Wolfe as he walked 
the long High-street of Westerham — little changed from of 
yore — not merely as boy, but as man. Tall, thin, straight 
as a poplar, with a keen, piercing blue eye, and a humorous 
mouth ; cool of bearing and deliberate of speech until he 
is roused and then the words cannot come quick enough, 
accompanying them by fierce and vehement gesture. In his 
social deportment he was always cheerful, alert and amiable. 



Moreover, he was point-device in his dress: lie patronised 
the best military tailor of the day : and as long as he wore 
wigs, which was up to within a year of his death, was most 




particular as to their quality and the manner in which his 
valet took care of them. 

This was the brilliant young soldier, Col. Wolfe, of Honey- 



wood's Regiment (the 20th), " the best-trained regiment in 
England," whose military skill and science was prodigious, 
whose advice was constantly being asked by the highest 
authorities, from the Prince of Wales downwards, who 
although only thirty had already fought in seven campaigns. 
No wonder the townsmen of Westerham were proud of him 
or that great things were predicted of this ardent young 
officer ! No one was therefore surprised when the Prime 
Minister, Pitt, selected him as Quarter-master General of 




View near Squerryes Park, Westerham. 

the Rochefort Expedition, where he alone of all the high- 
placed men, emerged with any credit, or as Brigadier-General 
in the expedition against the great fortress of Louisburg the 
following year. Owing to his efforts Louisburg was taken, 
and then came Quebec, one of the greatest achievements in 
the history of warfare — a conquest which gave us our price- 
less possession of Canada and brought the victor who, like 
Nelson, fell in the hour of triumph, undying fame throughout 
all ages to come. 



WOLFE AND WESTERHAM. 

In his heart Wolfe always cherished his birthplace. It 
was associated with nearly all the peace and tranquillity and 

freedom of his strenuous life; for soon after he hade adieu to 
the mansion where he spent the first twelve years of his 
boyhood he joined the Army and was, at an age when most 
boys nowadays are wrestling with Latin verbs and algebra, 
campaigning gallantly in Flanders. At sixteen he was a 
brigade-major. 

He knew every lane and turning in Westerham. There 
was not a rood of ground between Brasted Chart and Limps- 
Common on the one hand and Knockholt and Tatsfield on the 
other that he had not tramped or ridden over as a boy. In the 
grounds of Squerryes Court he received his first commission 
when he was fifteen, and he shot pheasants and rode to hounds 
for the last time in the locality in November, 1758, but ten 
months before he laid down his life on the Heights of 
Quebec. In Westerham lived his best and oldest friends, 
John and George Warde, while a sister, Miss Fanny Warde, is 
known to have been the first object of his boyish affections. 

THE WOLFE FAMILY. 

Wolfe's father was a colonel in the arm)' that had fought 
under Marlborough. At thirty-eight he married Miss Henrietta 
Thompson, of an old Yorkshire family, and sister of Brad- 
wardine Thompson, m.p. From York the elder Wolfe brought 
his bride to settle at Westerham. The house the)' came to 
was "Spiers" (now Quebec House), the last one in the village 
on the Maidstone road at the bottom of the hill, an antique, 
many-gabled brick mansion with two acres ot garden. In 
1726 it seemed in the highest degree unlikely thai t.. 1 
would be any work for soldiers more bloody than drill and 
reviews for a long time to come. It was the era of Walpole 
and Peace. Doubtless the Colonel and his bride looked for- 



ward to the sweets of retirement, and for a time at least 
their hopes were not disappointed. Young Mrs. Wolfe can 
hardly have failed to have been pleased with Westerham. 
The chosen home, rented from Thomas Ellison, steward of 
the manor, was just such an one as housewives dearly love, 
full of pantries, store-rooms and cupboards, with spacious 
attics and cellars, a wide hall and a broad staircase. Yet she 
may have breathed to her lord a wish that its situation had 
been at the top instead at the bottom of the hill. Soon after 
the Wolfes came, and the Colonel was absent momentarily 
with his regiment, the Colonel's lady paid a call on Mistress 
Lew r is at the Vicarage — a fateful afternoon call, that robbed 
"Spiers" of the honour of being the birthplace of James 
Wolfe. Neither the Vicar nor his spouse would hear of Mrs. 
Wolfe being carried back to her own mansion, and that very 
night her eldest son was born. The old-fashioned bedstead 
even is extant, having passed into the hands of the second 
General George Warde. In a letter written to a friend in 
1822, he says : " Among many things I have, originally his 
(Wolfe's) I sleep constantly on the bed in which he was 
born." Three weeks later he was christened at the Parish 
Church, and the entry in the parish register is still extant. 

It must not be forgotten either that Thackeray, the great 
novelist visited Westerham to collect local colour for his 
novel of " The Virginians," wmere he describes a visit which 
Harry Warrington and Colonel Lambert paid to " Spiers." 

" At Westerham," says Thackeray, " the two friends were 
welcomed by their hosts, a stately matron, an old soldier, 
whose recollections and services were of five and forty years 
back, and the son of this gentleman and lady, the Lieutenant- 
Colonel of Kingsley's regiment, that was then stationed at 
Maidstone from whence the Colonel had come over on a brief 
visit to his parents. Harry looked with some curiosity at 
this officer, who young as he was, had seen so much service 
and obtained a character so high. There was little of the 



beautiful in his face. He was very Jean and very pale ; 
his hair was red, his nose and cheekbones were high ; but 
he had a line courtesy towards his elders, a cordial greeting 




£2 



d§ 



towards his friends and an animation in conversation which 
caused those who heard him to forget, even to admire, his 
homely looks.' 



10 



" If," Wolfe's biographer has written, "there was anything 
abnormal about James Wolfe, it was the ardour of his 
patriotism, the loftiness of his ideals, his truly marvellous pro- 
fessional aptitude and not in the conformation or disposition 
of his features. His profile was scarce more uncommon than 
Pitt's or Mr. Chamberlain's and viewed not in profile his 
countenance, so far from being ' unprepossessing ' was 
singularly pleasing. In fact, there was no reason why every 




Hall of Qyebec House, Westerham. 

schoolboy in the Empire or in America should not be able 
to conjure up for himself James Wolfe in his habit as he 
lived. Authentic documents are now sufficiently abundant." 

It was in the hall of Quebec House that there took place 
that ever delightful conversation between the old veteran, his 
lady, Colonel Lambert, James Wolfe and Harry Warrington. 
" Mr. Warrington was going to Tonbridge. Their James 



11 



would bear him company, the lady of the house said, and 
whispered something to Colonel Lambert at supper, which 
occasioned smiles and a knowing wink or two from thai 
officer. He called for wine and toasted 4 Miss Lowther.' 

1 With all my heart,' cried the enthusiastic Colonel James, 
and drained his glass to the very last drop. Mamma whis- 
pered her friend how James and the lady were going to make 




Henrietta Wolfe. 

(By permission of the proprietors of " The Sphere."} 

a match, and how she came of the famous Lowther family 
of the North. 

' If she was the daughter of King Charlemagne,' cries 

Lambert, ' she is not too good for Janus Wolfe, or for his 
mother's son.' 



12 

1 Oh, of course she is a priceless pearl, and you are 
nothing,' cries mamma. ' No, I am of Colonel Lambert's 
opinion ; and if she brought all Cumberland to you for a 
jointure, I should say it was my James's due. That is the 
way with 'em, Mr. Warrington, we tend our children through 
fevers and measles, and whooping-cough, and small-pox ; we 
send them to the army, and can't sleep for thinking ; we 
break our hearts at parting with 'em, and only have them at 
home for a week or two in the year, or may be ten years, 
and after all our . care there comes a lass with a pair of bright 
eyes, and away goes our boy and never cares a fig for us 
afterwards.' 

' And pray, my dear, how did you come to marry James's 
papa ? ' said the elder Colonel Wolfe. ' And why didn't you 
stay at home with your parents ? ' 

'Because James's papa was gouty and wanted somebody 
to take care of him I suppose ; not because I liked him a 
bit,' answered the lady ; and so with much easy talk and kind- 
ness the evening passed away." 

Some years ago when Quebec House was undergoing 
restoration, behind a modern wall of lath and canvas there 
came to light an ancient stone fireplace with a fine example 
of the arms of Henry VII. greatly mutilated, carved on the 
wooden mantel overhead. This woeful mutilation, clearly 
wrought with knife or chisel may easily have been the exploit 
of a couple of schoolboys who had some previous practice 
on class-room desks. 

WOLFE'S CHILDHOOD. 

An admirable housekeeper of the old-fashioned thorough 
kind, with all the contemporary domestic and culinary arts 
at her finger tips was Mrs. Wolfe. A tall, fresh, comely 
serious-minded woman, brought up in the somewhat rigid 
Yorkshire way, with little sentiment save her love for her 
children and her ambition on their account. Strict economy 
was practised at Spiers, for the pay of the Colonel was 



13 



little enough and her own jointure small. Her household 
book, still extant, is full of receipts for inexpensive dishes 




Lieut. -General Edward Wolfe. 

From the portrait bv Thornhill in the possession of Heckles WillsOH, Esq., Qutbei I 

(By courtesy of William Heinemanw. 

and cures for various ailments. Both her boys were of sickly 
frame and needed constant care. They were taught to ride 



14 



by their father, who insisted on having new stables built for 
his horses, while his eldest son's passion for dogs has passed 
into a proverb. When he was only ten he kept six of various 
breeds, and the tradition runs that when he walked abroad, 
the cry would go up in the village " Mind the cats and 
children! Here comes Master Jemmy and his troop!" 
Wolfe went to school to Edward Lawrence whose school- 
house stood on the borders of Farleigh Common just north of 
the present " General Wolfe " inn. The bell which used to toll 
the scholars in to their tasks is still intact. Like the heroine 
of " Mary had a little lamb," Jemmy on more than one 
occasion is said to have got into difficulties at school, and 




The " General Wolfe " Inn. 

the story is told by the descendant of his old nurse, Betty 
Hooper, that on one occasion a burly pointer set up such a 
howling outside the class-room window, refusing to go away, 
that lessons were impossible and Master Wolfe and his dog 
were sent home in disgrace for the day. Another story is 
told of the Colonel's son dancing at the village fair with the 
perruquier's pretty daughter, because her boyish swain 
the sexton's son, had left her disconsolate. The old Colonel 
coming upon them, so far from being vexed, told the boy 



15 

be had done the right thing. This Betty Hooper cam< to 
have two sons of her own who served under Wolfe. " Two 
of the finest men in the Army," as Wolfe wrote to Ins mother. 

WESTERHAM AND THE VISITOR. 

Within easy reach of London is this charming little Kentish 
town, and yet but slightly changed since Wolfe's time. It is 
a place which every Englishman — -every pilgrim to England 
— should visit. Although some miles distant from the main 
line of the South-Eastern & Chatham Railway (which is the 
secret of its old - world charm), a branch line makes it 
accessible and trains are very frequent. Nowadays, the 
" King's Arms," and the " George and Dragon," depend 
upon motor cars and bicycles to fill their yards than upon 
coaches and post-chaises. But the church where he was bap- 
tised is just as it was, the ancient houses of the gentry still 
embroider the skirts ol the village green ; the old mill hangs 
over the Long Pond as in Wolfe's day ; the huntsmen still 
gallop through the High Street and lanes, and there is a 
W r arde still at Squerryes Court, where scores of Wolfe's 
letters and his family portraits are preserved. Moreover 
Darenth stream flows along the same dingy sixteenth century 
dwellings in the " Parish Meade," and Squerryes Woods can 
still boast an almost Canadian solitude as when the Wolfe 
lads and George Warde roamed the countryside. But the 
chief shrines of the pilgrim besides the church are here to 
reward him, Quebec House and the Vicarage. 

HOW TO REACH WESTERHAM. 

Westerham is easily reached from London, there being 
frequent trains from Charing Cross, Cannon Street or London 
Bridge Stations of the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. 
Cheap day tickets are issued on certain days specified, and 
altogether the railway shows itself alive to the futun 
Wolfe's birthplace as a national shrine. 

It can also be reached by motor bus from Oxted, three 
and a half miles distant on L.B. & ^.C . Railway. 



16 



THE CHURCH. 



The Church of St. Mary, Westerham, stands on a high 
ridge at the east end of the town, the first object in the 
landscape. The present structure only dates from the time 
of Henry III. The Parish Registers begin in 1559, and con- 
tain many curious sidelights on local history. Thomas 
Combes, afterwards Dean of Durham, was baptised here in 
1645, while from 1670 to 1680 were baptised several children 
of Samuel Hoadley, afterwards successively Bishop of Ban- 
gor, of Salisbury, and of Winchester. Hither was carried 
the infant James Wolfe, "son of Colonel Edward Wolfe, 




Westerham Parish Church from Costell's Fields. 



born Jan. nth, 1726," and later "Edward, son of Colonel 
Edward Wolfe, baptised Jan. 10th, 1728." From the age 
of three years James, it is recorded, sat in the high-backed 
pew allotted to " Spiers," the second on the right of the 
middle aisle from the pulpit. Mr. Lewis is said to have been 
an excellent preacher, and between the Vicar's lady and Mrs. 
Wolfe the most intimate relations subsisted. On Wolfe's 
visits to Westerham after he became famous in the Army 
he always sat with his friends in the squire's pew. In those 
days the King's Arms, painted in the reign of Edward VI. 



17 

and amongst the earliest examples of the kind extant, hung 
at the west end of the South aisle. The}- arc still to be seen 
under the Tower. There was another in the north-west aisle 
bearing the date of 1662. In the church is buried the 2nd Ear] 
of Jersey, who died at Sqnerryes in 1721. There are numer- 
ous interesting tablets, amongst the modern ones being a 
brass to General George Warde (died 1830) of Woodland 
Castle, Glamorganshire, brother to the " Father of Fox- 



■■ jffiS 'W^-rj*. 






j3*/J y ' " 



^ ^ /e fart cSe/s? 1rr*"'4 ' r '" J 



•JfefeT ™- '*^ 



, 7 U 



Entry in Parish Register of James Wolfe's bapti 



Hunting" (who was born in YYesterham), and grandfather 
to the present Lieutenant-Colonel Warde, of Squerryes ; and 
to his wife Charlotte, daughter of the Bishop of Peterborough. 
The inscription on a tablet erected to the memory of 
Henry John Gregory Warde, brother of the present owner 
of Squerryes, records how he fell in the treacherous mass 



IS 

of Cawnpore, in 1857, in the twentieth year of his young 
life, though not before he had become like his ancestors " a 
model soldier," whose "death was a great loss to his country." 

In 1882-3 at a cost of some /~6,ooo the Church was 
restored, the roof being uncovered and renewed and many 
beautiful gifts being added which give it an especially well 
cared for appearance. In 1854 the high-backed pews were 
abolished, as was also a fine old " three-decker " pulpit. In 
1 87 1 the organ, a line instrument by Lewis, was erected at 
a cost of £800, by Colonel George Warde in memory of his 
father, Admiral Warde, and in 1882 Lady Harriet Warde 
and other members of the Warde family gave the handsome 
mosaic reredos in memory of Colonel George Warde. As 
far back as 1723 the large sum of £i\ was paid for the bell 
and clapper, the carriage of which cost ^"3, as the church- 
warden's records bear testimony. The present church bells, 
eight in number, were all recast about 1838 and in 1892 they 
were re-hung, the framework and fittings renewed, as a gift 
by Mrs. Griffith, a sister of Colonel Warde. 

In the east window of the north aisle is a stained glass 
window by C. E. Kempe, erected m 1890 in memory of 
Admiral Charles Warde and Marianna, his wife, by their 
surviving children. The chancel window, by James Powell, 
was given in memory of T. E. Champion Streatfeild, the 
architect for the last restoration of the church. 

The east window of the south aisle, by C. E. Kempe, was 
erected to the memory of Dr. Charles Robert Thompson. 

On Nov. 7th, 1909, was unveiled a stained glass window 
to the memory of General Wolfe. Occasion was taken by 
the Vicar to have assembled in the church a detachment of 
local troops who listened to the stirring words from the pulpit 
on the life and example of the heroic figure who had spent 
his boyhood in this town, and regularly attended divine 
service in the same place of worship where all were then 
gathered. The subject of the Memorial Window is " The 
Nativity," executed by Messrs. Morris & Co., Merton Abbey, 




Wolfe Memorial Window. Westerham Parish Church. 



20 



Surrey, who have successfully carried out the designs of the 
late Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Bart. The memorial is made 
especially to mark the association of Wolfe with the church, 
where for over a century there has been little to signalise 
the fact that a great world hero had first seen the light in 
this parish, and received the rites of the Church at the early 
age of three weeks. His glorious death is commemorated by 
a marble tablet over the doorway bearing this inscription : 

" While George in sorrow bows his laurel'd head, 
And bid the artist grace the soldier dead : 
We raise no sculptured trophy to thy name 
Brave youth ! the fairest in the list of fame. 
Proud of thy birth, we boast th' auspicious year, 
Struck with thy fall we shed a general tear ; 
With humble grief inscribe our artless stone 
And from thy matchless honours date our own. 

/ DECUS I NOSTRUM." 




Middle Aisle, Westerham Parish Church. 



The " I decus, I nostrum " (Go, our ornament, go ! ) is 
taken from Virgil, but has puzzled many worthy persons, 
one of whom was overheard giving the assurance that they 
recorded the names of two contemporary churchwardens, 
John Decus and John Nostrum ! 




Parish Church Baptismal Font, 

at this font James Wolfe was christened. 



22 



On entering is seen the font where the future hero was 
baptised, January nth, 1727. 

In the vestry is an oil portrait of Wolfe, a replica of 
that by Schaak in the National Portrait Gallery. 

A project is now on foot for a new lectern and altar 
railing, the latter from wood grown on the slopes of Abraham, 
to be presented by the citizens of Quebec to Westerham. 




James Wolfe's ensign commission. 



Other memorials are to Arthur Warde, Lieut-Colonel of 
Bengal Infantry, who died at Landour, East Indies; while 
the visitor's eye will be drawn to the effigies of a kneeling 
couple near the chancel. These are of Thomas Potter, of 
Well-street|(died 161 1), and his wife, Dame Elizabeth, widow 
of Sir John Rivers, Lord Mayor of London in 1573. 



23 



SQUERRYES COURT. 

This fine red brick mansion dates from 1686, replacing 
a former one possessed by John Evelyn's nephew, Sir William 
Leech. After being in the possession of the first and second 
Earls of Jersey, it was sold by the third Earl to [ohn 
Warde, Esq., son of Sir John Warde, Lord Mayor of London 
in the reign of James II. The beautiful estate has since 




Squerryes Court from the Lake. 



(By permission oj William Heinemam 



remained in the Warde family, the third John Warde collect- 
ing most of the beautiful pictures which now adorn it. The 
fourth John Warde is still famous throughout England as 
the " Father of Fox-hunting." Wolfe's earliest and best 
friend was George, son of the first owner of Squerrye?, and 
afterwards a general. These two lads were inseparable and 
together roamed the countryside. In 1 74 1 , one November 
day while James Wolfe was a visitor at Squerryes an ensign's 



24 

commission arrived for young Wolfe. He was then only 
fourteen years old. An imposing cenotaph still marks the 
place associated with this event. When General Wolfe sailed 
from England for the last time, in 1758, he wrote to his old 
playfellow then a major in the army : 

"Dear Major, — If my father should die in my absence. 
I desire that you and Carleton will let my mother know that 
jointly with her you are empowered to transact my business, 
as the enclosed general letter of attorney sets forth ; and if 
you will assist her with your good counsel, I shall think of 
it with more satisfaction and acknowledge it with more 
gratitude than anything done to myself." 

On being appointed to the Quebec command Wolfe 
offered Warde a high place in the expedition. The latter 
became his executor, and later that of Wolfe's mother, who 
left him several Wolfe family portraits and all her son's 
letters in her possession. These letters, together with the 
Wolfe military commissions are still at Squerryes Court. 
What extraordinary letters they are ! What a period of 
martial activity they describe ! The first is dated 1741, the 
last just a few weeks before the boy general's death in 
September, 1759. 

Little justice has been done to Wolfe as a letter-writer. 
He was master of an excellent style ; passages abound which 
are distinguished by a real eloquence. But these letters are 
something more than mere literary compositions. They reveal 
the very inner, deeper heart of the man ; the hopes and dis- 
appointments, his melancholy doubts, the high ambition which 
marked the youth and manhood of one of the bravest and 
clearest-headed Englishmen who ever drew a sword for his 
country and longed with a passionate longing to make her 
great. As the poet has noted, 

Wolfe where'er he fought, 

Put so much of his heart into the act. 

That his example had a magnetic force, 

And all who were swift to follow whom all loved. 

The letters at Squerryes have had, bye-the-bye, an odd 
history. Originally bequeathed by Mrs. Wolfe to her son's 



25 



dearest friend, George, afterwards General Warde, they de- 
scended to his nephew and namesake. In 1827 they were 
borrowed by a gentleman named Hampden Turner to lend 
to Southey, the poet, who proposed to write a " Life of 
Wolfe." How long Southey kept them in his possession is 




Cenotaph to mark the spot in Squerryes Park where James Wolfe 
received his first commission. (By courtesy of William Heinemann), 

not known, but the proposed Life was never written, and it 
is supposed the letters were returned to Hampden Turner 
who soon afterwards died. At his death the precious letters 
were, however, not forthcoming and their owner lost all trace 
of them for years. In 1858 a sale catalogue of the manu- 
scripts of one Dawson Turner, Esq., of Yarmouth, reached 



26 

Admiral Warde, the father of the present lord of the manor. 
In this catalogue amongst other items the " military com- 
missions of Lieut. -General Edward Wolfe, together with 
letters of the latter," were offered by the auctioneers to the 
public. The Admiral, naturally wrote at once to the execu- 
tors, who very courteously withdrew the Wolfe papers from 
sale. Subsequently as amende honorable, they presented their 
rightful owner with various additional Wolfe Manuscripts 
collected by Dawson Turner, all of which for the last half 
a century have been safely deposited at Squerryes Court. 

Like all geniuses, and unlike most soldiers, Wolfe was 
an intensely reflective and human person. Sometimes we 
see him in some fit of depression, as when he writes to his 
mother : 

" Dear Madam, —The winter wears away, so do our years, 
and so does life itself ; and it matters little where a man 
passes his days and what station he fills, or whether he be 
great or considerable, but it imports him something to look 
to his manner of life. This day I am five-and-twenty years 
of age, and all that time is as nothing. When I am fifty 
(if it so happens) and look back, it will be the same ; and so 
on to the last hour. But it is worth a moment's consider- 
ation that one may be called away on a sudden, unguarded 
and unprepared ; and the oftener these thoughts are enter- 
tained, the less will be the dread or fear of death. You will 
judge by this sort of discourse that it is the dead of night 
when all is quiet and at rest, and one of those intervals 
wherein men think of what they really are, and what they 
really should be ; how much is expected, and how little per- 
formed. Our short duration here, and the doubts of hereafter, 
should awe and deter the most flagitious, if they reflected 
on them." 

Again in another of the Squerryes Court letters he writes : 
" Few of my companions surpass me in common knowledge, 
but most of them in vice. This is a truth that I should 
blush to relate to one that had not all my confidence, lest 



27 

it be thought to proceed either from insolence or vanity ; 
hut I think you don't understand it so. I dread their habits 
and behaviour, and forced to an eternal watch upon myself, 
that I may avoid the very manner which I most condemn 
in them. Young men should have some object constantly in 
their aim, some shining character to direct them. 'Tis a dis- 
advantage to be first at an imperfect age ; either we become 
enamoured with ourselves, seeing nothing superior, or fall into 
the degree of our associates." 

Such was his passion for his profession that, at an age 
when the young Englishman of to-day is thinking chiefly of 
cricket and golf, we find him writing to his mother : " If 
I did not profess the business myself, I should follow all 
the reviewing generals for the sake of seeing the troops. I 
know nothing more entertaining than a collection of well- 
looking men, uniformly clad, and performing their exercises 
with grace and order. I should go further, my curiosity would 
carry me to all parts of the world to be a spectator at these 
martial sights, and to see the various produce of different 
climates and the regulations of different armies. Fleets and 
fortifications, too, are objects that would attract me as 
strongly as architecture, painting and the gentler arts." 

In Walpole's words, James Wolfe was "a young officer 
who had contracted reputation from his intelligence of disci- 
pline and from the perfection to which he brought his own 
regiment. He looked upon danger as the favourable moment 
that would call forth his talents." 

At Squerryes is a portrait of James Wolfe painted at 
the time of his first commission to the army. This picture 
was once the property of Wolfe's mother. It shows us a 
decidedly good-looking youth of fifteen, with blue intelligent 
eyes, a nose with a Celtic " spring " in it, a resolute mouth 
and a chin which, though receding, was yet well-moulded. 
In this likeness his red hair is concealed by what was pro- 
bably his first wig. At Quebec House is preserved also 
Thornhill's portrait of Wolfe's father. 



28 



THE VICARAGE. 



The building has undergone many alterations since Wolfe's 
day, but the front rooms of the old Jacobean building remain 
very much as they were. The room in which the hero was 
born is on the first floor, and facing the east side of the 
house. The back windows command a glorious prospect of 
lawn and garden, skirted by a winding tributory of the 
Darenth. 



1 '- ! 


HS| 








■ 


' 


Br 


1^ 
















*jS* 








' ^^hHwvHw^^^^^bI 








*• 




» . 


D" : " , "" 


El* - 1 \ iy 


5135 


5hI 








. N '.V- ■.'; ■* 


■M 












.^BQq 



The Vicarage, Westerham. 
(.Bj courtesy of William Heinemann). 

Jane Austen, shows her familiarity with Westerham, and 
in " Pride and Prejudice " brings the Rev. Mr. William 
Collins to reside in the neighbourhood. Hither came Eliza- 
beth Bennett, on a visit to the parsonage, a comfortable 
abode, bearing a description which tallies well with the 
Vicarage of to-day. 



29 



THE GEORGE AND DRAGON INN. 

This interesting old coaching inn was where the Wolfes 
set out for London, and where the General is reputed to 
have stayed on his last visit to Westerham in December 
1758, as he had to post for Blackheath early the next 
morning, and would not give his friend, John Warde, any 
inconvenience by rousing him at daybreak. The claret jug 
used by Wolfe in his last campaign is in the possession of 
the proprietor. 




The " George &■ Dragon," Hotel. 



It is at the " George and Dragon " that the annual 
Wolfe Birthday dinner is held on the 2nd of January. This 
custom began in the year after the hero's death and after 
a long period of desuetude, when those who had known 
him in the flesh had passed the way of all flesh, it was 
recently revived, when the local gentry and tradesfolk fore- 
gather to drink in silence to " The Pious and Immortal 
Memory of James Wolfe." 



30 



THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO WOLFE 
AT HIS BIRTHPLACE. 

In July, 1909, not long before the celebration in London 
of the 150th Anniversary of the Conquest of Quebec (Sep- 
tember, 1759), a committee was formed to procure funds for 
a national memorial to Westerham's hero. About the same 

time sufficient was obtained 
by the Vicar for the purpose 
of erecting a stained - glass 
window to his memory in 
the Church. It was decided 
on the motion of Earl 
Roberts, who headed the 
larger movement, that the 
best form for the National 
Memorial to take would be 
a bronze statue on the Vil- 
lage Green. At the banquet 
on Wolfe Day the honorary 
treas., Sir Frederick Young, 
announced that a large part 
of the sum needed had been 
subscribed, and thereafter the 
success of the project seems 
assured. A statue of Wolfe, 
the first in England, will duly be reared to attract pilgrims 
from far and near. Contributions to this end may be sent to 
the Vicar, Rev. Sydney Le Mesurier, The Vicarage, Westerham, 
or to Sir Frederick Young, Royal Colonial Institute, Northum- 
berland Avenue, London, W.C. 

Of Westerham's local hero, a great soldier, Field- Marshal 
Sir George White, said at the recent Wolfe Banquet in 
London, that by his victory Wolfe became the founder of 
British Canada, and earned for himself undying fame. If 
the value of victory was to be appraised by its after effects, 




Claret Jug used by General 
Wolfe in his last campaign. 



31 



the Battle of Quebec must always stand high on the roll 
of the decisive battles of the world. After a lapse of a 
century and a half we were waking up to the potentiality 
which that victoiy contained, not only with regard to 
Canada, herself, but also to the Mother Country and through- 
out the length and breadth of our world - wide Empire. 
When he studied the battle, its risks and its results, he 
became more and more convinced that to that hero, young 




Parish Church from Quebec House. 

in years, but old in experience, the acknowledgment and 
gratitude of the nation were almost entirely due. He read 
the story of that campaign, and of the battle which ended 
it, with a feeling almost akin to awe. He realised more 
and more the difficulties and the position in which the hero 
found himself. " But his indomitable spirit and sense of 
duty, his grandeur and loftiness of purpose carried him 
through triumphant." 



PRINTED BY HOOKER BROTHERS, WESTERHAM , KENT. 



.^•'.avjl. 







mm 


KwSSSl 






4K*3k 


if 'i—f*'.-i 



.■.■'..■■■-■ S: -.■-' 

mSBHT 

hhhb 

'■•;■'..'.. : ": - - ; - v . 



^^H 



v-' - -^ 1 1 H ^H *^'^- r 






#9? 



JHr 



HRBHH 






■ ■:■■ -^^^k^ *■